Food Choice Awareness

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We all need to be aware of our food choices. Me and my friends volunteered at the Fremont Earth day fair and took surveys of other citizens at the Earth day fair. We picked broad topics to research, such as GMO related questions and raw vegetable related questions. Our goal was to see if the citizens are both health and environmentally conscious.

First, we interviewed the people on the GMO topic. We interviewed 27 people on this topic. The first question that they answered was, “Would you prefer GMO or Non-GMO fruits and vegetables?” Out of the 27 people, 17 preferred Non-GMO. The remaining 8 either wasn’t sure or they only looked at the cost of the item. This showed that some people are unaware as they do not check the ingredients, and unable to always make healthy choices due to higher costs.

Still in the same topic, the second question was, “Did you know that regular seed packets we buy locally are non-organic seeds?” Out of the 27 people, 17 knew that they were non-organic. But on the other hand, 10 people thought that all seeds were organic. Some people are not being informed because some companies are not putting all the information on the packaging. We need to be more aware of what we buy because there could be bad chemicals or ingredients in it, even in a seed!

Then we interviewed 35 people on the topic of raw vegetables. The first question was, “Do you like to drink raw vegetable juices or smoothies?” Out of the 35 people, 24 liked raw veggie drinks, and they felt that it was an easier way to intake their daily vegetables. But the other 10 didn’t like them. This question shows that veggie drinks are the craze and becoming more common.

The final question we asked was, “Do you know that all veggies can’t be eaten raw?” Actually, 24 of the 35 people didn’t know that all veggies can’t be eaten raw. Although 9 people did know. Most people thought that all vegetables could be consumed raw. They were surprised when we explained that only some vegetables can be eaten raw. Cruciferous veggies contain a chemical/substance that can harm our Thyroid gland – examples of cruciferous are cabbage, arugula, and even cauliflower! And there is oxalic acid in some veggies, even spinach, that block the absorption of iron and calcium and cause kidney stones! So even though raw juices may taste good, it’s safe only when made with vegetables that can eaten raw. Mostly, it is better to cook veggies or even lightly steaming would remove the negative effects.

Therefore, we all need to be aware of our food choices and how we eat. Even though the citizens at the Earth day fair are mostly environmentally conscious, there are still some things we may not know.

 

About The Author:

Amita Gowda, 10 years old, a passionate & upcoming youth leader, is working in collaboration with a team on the project, “Food Choices and Healthy Living.” She also serves as a youth board advisory council for Green Kids Now, Inc. non-profit organization.

Check out project webpage:

https://www.greenkidsnow.org/foodchoices/

My Aquaponics Adventure!

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Recently I visited two Aquaponics farms. The farms were called, “Ouroboros Farms” and “SchoolGrown”. The tour of these aquaponics farms was thrilling because I like plants and animals. Aquaponics is an alternate farming method which combines Aquaculture and Hydroponics together. Alternate farming methods are going to play a very important role in our future. We can also grow plants without soil. Now here are some fascinating details I learned.

Last year people ate more fish than beef. That is very important to note. We really need more supplies of vegetables and we also need more fish. But with the changing climate and droughts, it is a huge challenge. Aquaponics is the answer to this challenge. Aquaponics also conserves water. An aquaponics fish farm uses 99% less water, no cleaning is needed, and there is no need to change the water. Vegetables are grown with 90% to 95% less water, as the water is re-circulating.

With this method we can grow more vegetables in less spaces and without soil. About 10 to 12 heads of lettuce can be grown per sq. ft., whereas in the old soil farming, only about 3 heads of lettuce per sq. ft. can survive because the roots need more space. The roots of one lettuce plant in the soil spread over large areas and can get as big as a Volkswagen beetle car! The plants grown in aquaponics farms grows fewer roots just enough to absorb the nutrients from the water, and they put all their energy in the rest of the plant growth, so plants are actually healthier. The aquaponics farm grows 900 carrots in just 2 sq. ft.

In fish farms the nitrate level goes as high as 1300-1400 ppm, which is toxic. Dr. Rakocy made the filtration system that removes toxic and keep the nutrients. The duckweed plants, algae, worms, and other small good living creatures, creates an ecosystem that can feed the fishes as well as create minerals for plants. Not only vegetables, other types of crops like rice can also be grown in aquaponics method.

The Ouroboros farm is organic. The pesticide used is Neem based. Mosquito fish are grown to eat insects. They strive hard to keep everything organic to maintain a good balanced ecosystem.  The aquaponics farm with the solar technology is the non-profit organization, “SchoolGrown”. Their new solar powered water circulating system uses just 20W of energy to move 500 gal. of water. The roof solar is used for filtration and other energy needs.

Aquaponics farms conserves energy, conserves water, crops can be grown all year round, has less pests, its organic, and is soil less. The benefits are huge! I would like to end with John Cage’s quote, “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of old ones!”

About the Author:

Amita Gowda, 8 years old is an active volunteer of Green Kids Now, and is already a youth speaker and has delivered several presentations in science and environmental topics.

Ouroboros Farm Tour

Hydroponics & Alternate Farming Methods – presented at 5th annual, Green Kids Conference:

Other Resources:

Here is a PBS blog post about SchoolGrown: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/spreading-aquaponics-schools-around-country/

Here is a PBS news video about Ouroboros Farms:http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/aquaponic-farming-saves-water-can-feed-country/